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Tuesday July 24, 2007

Day 51 - Reidsville, GA to Laura S. Walker State Park (Waycross, GA) 80 miles, 4:45

Cyclists really do get run over out here.

From the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute:

  • There are 85 million bicycle riders in the US.
  • 784 bicyclists died on US roads in 2005. 92% of them died in crashes with motor vehicles (720).
  • About 540,000 bicyclists visit emergency rooms with injuries every year.

These are some interesting numbers for sure, numbers we pray every day that we won't be included in.

Our ride today down Hwy 121 south to Hoboken then west to the Laura S. Walker State Park was 80 miles of pure enjoyment. We powered through a couple 30-mile sections riding hard, and then enjoyed a sandwich in Blackshear, GA around noon. The last 20 miles were spent spinning through a rain storm that hit us at the very end of the ride.

Thankfully, we were not hit by a speeding semi truck. But, it was a really close call. We've actually had a couple of them just in the last two days.

On this occasion, there was no excuse. There was no traffic in the oncoming lane. As always, I had a flasher on the back of my bike and I was wearing a fluorescent green / yellow jersey. Most drivers would have moved left toward the center line a little and passed, but not this guy. He didn't move an inch and came within what felt like 12 inches or so of sending us to meet Jesus in Heaven. What was that guy thinking?

That's our "thought for the day": the personalities of drivers on country roads in America. Our study will use a two-lane country road and assume oncoming traffic.

Driver Number 1) he slows all the way down to your speed, waits for the traffic to clear , and politely passes. He waves and smiles as he goes by.

Driver Number 2) he slows all the way down to your speed, waits for the traffic to clear  then guns the engine past you, jeering.

Driver Number 3) he slows down a little, moves left toward the center line and passes.

Driver Number 4) he doesn't slow down at all, but he moves over just enough to put a couple feet between you and his truck or car.

Driver Number 5) we saw him today, he doesn't move at all and blows right by you, coming unexplainably within inches of killing you.

Driver Number 6) this guy is the most deranged. See Driver Number 5, only lay on the horn the whole time (we saw this guy only once while in Missouri, I think).

Speaking of horns, we get a lot of that too. Beep, or beep-beep. That means, hello, you go boy. It's encouraging. Honnnk, honnnnk. That means, I'm coming by and I want you to know it, because I'm more than a little scared I might run you over.

OK, I'll get to it, the point. Your every interaction with others sends a message about you and who you are. More importantly, if you're a Christian, your every action sends a message about whose you are. The example we've explored here is how you might pass a cyclist on the highway (and we hope you'll do it like Driver Number 3). And while there are plenty of psychological studies out there on road rage, I'm really taking a more general tact here.

Loving your neighbor is a full-time job.

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 J. Boe Ellis - 813.732.0619